Reeder muses on the "amazing event" chronicled in historic accounts, in which, "Men of power and prestige sacrificed their lives for women and children of the lower class, many of whom were indentured servants, day laborers, and domestic workers. On this flotilla of self-absorption, self-sacrifice became a prevailing virtue during a crisis moment, and the powerful chose death that the powerless might receive life."
Reeder asks "Why?" and answers his own question: "...the undeniable influence of Christianity. The Christian virtue of self-sacrifice for the well-being of others and the biblical imperative for men to lay down their lives for women and children were chosen instead of self-preservation."
Other ships have sunk with great loss of life. The Lusitania was torpedoed by a German U-boat on May 7, 1915, killing more than 1,100 with nearly 800 surviving, but that ship went down in just 18 minutes, while the Titanic took almost three hours to slip beneath the waters of the North Atlantic, thus giving the Titanic more time for real, as well as manufactured, drama.
Since its demise, Titanic's name has become a brand. Souvenir T-shirts and other tacky memorabilia are for sale. USA Today reports a $5 bill salvaged from the wreckage is up for auction. The reality, though, is that more than 1,500 people died when the ship sank. Branches of family trees were severed. Parents were lost to children and children who were lost never lived to be parents themselves.
Titanic was a monument to the glory and presumed omnipotence of human ingenuity, which was also destroyed. In Titanic's demise, acts of self-sacrifice that shattered stereotypes about "the rich" were revealed. Those stories would have made for a better film than the ones made. Though, to borrow from the Cameron film's title song, their stories will "go on."
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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